Friends Of Wonder is a documentary about the Loew’s Theatre in Jersey City, told through the framework of Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s performance there last November on their tour in support of their collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice. It was directed by Irene Chin and Kurt Vincent, and goes into the background of the historic theatre, including the restoration efforts that began in the late ’80s and continue through to today. It’s one of five Loew’s Wonder Theatres still in existence, and only one of two — including the recently remodeled Kings Theatre — being used for performance purposes. In addition to concerts, the theatre in Jersey City also puts on film screenings and community events.
The documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the theater, with concert promoters talking about the big acts that have come through over the years (Yo La Tengo, Bright Eyes, Jeff Magnum), while sound engineers and volunteers provide context to the theatre’s storied history. Intercut with these segments is performance footage of Barnett and Vile and some interviews with the pair, where they discuss learning how to perform in larger venues and their love of musicals. (Kurt Vile says he loves the American Idiot musical, though he seems to be at least partially joking.)
The documentary was released by WeTransfer, in conjunction with Matador Records.